Boaters can save their favorite waters – and their boats!

Published Aug. 28, 2012
Zebra mussels pose a formidable risk to native lake species and recreation.

Zebra mussels pose a formidable risk to native lake species and recreation.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Central California boaters and fisherman are being asked to take quick action to save their favorite lakes and rivers from a Western-moving invasion of smelly, damaging, sharp-shelled pests – Zebra and Quagga mussels.

“We are asking all boaters at all of our parks to be vigilant and take immediate measures in order to stem the tide of these damaging pests,” said Jonathan Friedman, senior district natural resources specialist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District. “Some of the finest boating and fishing spots in Central California are at risk from these invaders as more and more have been detected on boats entering our parks.”

Another partner in the fight to stop the movement of these invasive species, the National Park Service, indicates that invasive mussels are already an ecological and financial threat in The West: “The spread of Quagga mussels to Lake Mead and Lake Mohave will potentially cost millions of dollars by clogging engines and encrusting boats and facilities, disrupting the food chain, disrupting sport fishing and littering beaches with sharp smelly shells.”

"While most vessels entering the State of California go through some sort of inspection station, even those given a clean bill of health can still have mussels on them. Zebra and Quagga mussels are so small, it makes sense to perform two or even three separate inspections,” said Friedman. “Vessels have arrived at our parks with mussels on them, even after going through check stations."

An Aug. 7 report from The Daily Democrat, noted that Southern California has already been struck hard by these invaders: “Quaggas appeared in Southern California five years ago. So far, the mollusks have cost the Metropolitan Water District $35 million for maintenance, chemicals, inspections and equipment. The mussel has now colonized 25 Southern California lakes.”

Their impact can spread to shorelines, where decaying mussels produce an extremely foul smell and their razor-like shells can be a hazard to barefoot swimmers and beachcombers. This combination spoils the most pristine of locations and prohibits recreational activities.

A few boating precautions can help save your favorite lake or river from invasive species:
• Remove any vegetation, mud and animal hitchhikers from your vessel, waders and equipment.
• Toss any unwanted bait in the trash, not on the ground or in the water.
• Pull the plug on your boat and drain your bilge, live wells and bait buckets.
• Spray down your boat with water from a high-pressure hose. Use hot water if possible.
• When possible, make sure your boat, bilge and buckets are drained and dry for at least five days prior to heading out on the water.

On personal watercraft, impeller areas can contain Zebra and Quagga mussels and aquatic plants:
• Once pulled onto the trailer, run the engine for five to 10 seconds to blow out excess water, mussels and plants. Before leaving water access, inspect and remove any mussels or plants from intake, steering nozzle, hull and trailer.

“By carefully inspecting and cleaning your watercraft and equipment, you’ll be saving your favorite boating and fishing destinations while avoiding expensive boat repairs,” said Friedman.